This article will attempt to answer some of your questions regarding the New Jersey laws that will affect your injury case, whether you are involved in an insurance company settlement or a personal injury lawsuit.
Time Limits for New Jersey Personal Injury Lawsuits
The first, and most important rule to understand in any case, is the statute of limitations. This is the amount of time from the incident that you are allowed to seek relief. All states have limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in the civil court system following some type of harm you have suffered. There are different deadlines depending on the type of case you’re asking the court to hear.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person two years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against those responsible for the injury.
It is very important to understand and abide by this law because, if you don’t get your lawsuit filed before the two-year time limit, the New Jersey court system will likely refuse to hear your case at any time after this limitation, and your right to compensation will be gone.
New Jersey Shared Fault Laws
In some cases, the party you are trying to hold responsible for your injuries may claim that you’re completely or partially to blame for the injuries you have sustained.
If you do share some of the liability, the total amount of the compensation, you receive from the other party, could end up affected.
In shared fault injury cases, New Jersey upholds the “modified comparative negligence rule.” In its simplest definition, this rule means that the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident. However, if it is found that you bear more than 50 percent of the legal blame, you won’t be able to collect anything at all from the other at-fault parties.
New Jersey courts are obligated to follow this rule in an injury lawsuit that goes to trial. You can also expect the lawyer for the defence to raise the issue of the comparative negligence rule during settlement talks.
No-Fault Rule for Car Accident Cases
In the case of car accidents only, New Jersey’s “no-fault” system means injury must be made against your own insurance policy, unless you can show that your injuries meet the “serious injury” threshold. This means that your options are limited to demanding compensation for pain and suffering. However, this process expedites the payment of most claims.
Caps on Injury Damages
Some states place limits on the kinds of damages that an injured person can receive in a court case.
In New Jersey, the only relevant law that addresses this is under section 2A: 15-5.14 of the New Jersey Code, which caps punitive damages in injury cases at five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater. However, this law most likely won’t affect your case, since punitive damages are very rarely awarded.
Dog Bite/Attack Cases “Strict” Liability
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability for the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often referred to as the “one bite” rule. However, in New Jersey a specific statute makes the owner “strictly liable”, meaning regardless of the animal’s past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by their dog. The statute reads:
“The owner of any dog” [which bites someone] “in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Injury Claims Against the Government of New Jersey
If your injury occurred due to the negligence of an employee or agency of the New Jersey government (at the state level), you will need to follow a different set of rules if you want to get compensation for your losses. You’ll need to file a formal claim with the state government within 90 days of your injury. After that, you’ll have to wait six months to file a lawsuit (assuming the government hasn’t contacted you to resolve your claim), and you must file the lawsuit, in any case within two years of your injury.
Personal injury cases can be confusing and usually mean that you will be going up against an insurance company who will have ruthless lawyers present to represent them and work toward an outcome that means they will offer very little in the way of compensation, if anything at all.